Five quality-of-life reasons it makes sense to exercise and eat healthily

depositphotos_82232076_original“You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
Ask anyone worth their salt who works in fitness and/or nutrition and they’ll tell you it’s the truth.

This begs the question: If your goal is to lose weight, can you do so by focusing on your diet only?

Yes, you can, but you’ll risk being what’s called “skinny-fat.”

Skinny-fat is looking nice and slim with your clothes on, but when you take them off, it’s a different story. Because you don’t exercise regularly, you have little muscle tone, no definition and you look a little soft all around.

By exercising you create physical strength, which has a huge impact on the quality of your life; such as, getting up and down off the floor, in and out of your car, and carrying groceries, all these become simpler and you won’t give them a second thought if you have physical strength.

The simple truth is that if you want to be in optimum shape and look and feel great, you have to exercise and eat healthily.

But, of course, there are other reasons. Here are five of them and the role exercise and nutrition play…

1. You’ll reduce your chances of getting diabetes.

Exercise: When you exercise your heart beats a little faster and you breathe a little harder. Your muscles, in turn, use more glucose (the sugar in your bloodstream.) Do this consistently and over time it will lower your blood sugar level which in turn makes the insulin in your body work better.

Nutrition: According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health the following food strategy will help you avoid type 2 diabetes: 1) Choose whole grains and whole-grain products; 2) Skip sugary drinks and choose water; 3) Choose good fats; 4) Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; 5) If you smoke, quit; 6) Moderate your consumption of alcohol.

2. You’ll have healthy bones – Osteoporosis is a disease in which your bones become weak and brittle.

Exercise: Your bones are living tissues that become stronger with exercise. During the third decade of our lives, our bones begin to lose their strength. Regular exercise increases your bone strength and bone density. Exercise also helps us maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance. This is important because strong muscles help prevent falls and fractures. The best exercises for bone strength are the weight-bearing kind such as weight training, walking, jogging, hiking, tennis and dancing.

Nutrition: There are two key nutrients your body uses to build strong bones: Calcium and Vitamin D. Foods that are known to be good for you bones are dairy products such as eggs, low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese; canned sardines and salmon (with bones); tuna; dark, leafy greens, such as kale, arugula, watercress, and collard; broccoli; almond butter; soy beans and nuts.

3. You’ll have less stress – According to the American Medical Association, stress is the basic cause of more than 60% of all human illness and disease!

Exercise: Physical activity increases your brain’s production of endorphins. Endorphins give you a sense of well-being and euphoria. Exercise also improves blood flow and your body’s ability to use oxygen both of which have a direct, positive result on your brain’s well-being.

Nutrition: Some foods help stabilize your blood sugar which helps keep you on an even keel when it comes to your emotions. Foods to embrace are green leafy vegetables, wild caught Alaskan Salmon, blueberries, pistachios, dark chocolate, avocado, nuts and seeds, red peppers, and green tea (to name a few.)

4. You’ll get more sleep – Sleep disorders affect 40% of adults according to research done by Quebec’s Laval University. When you don’t get enough sleep, you could get sick easier as lack of sleep reduces your body’s ability to fight illness; your chances of developing heart disease or having a stroke is increased; your decision making, memory, reasoning, and problem solving suffers; your risk of diabetes increases and your looks suffer.

Exercise: An Oregon State University study showed that people who did 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week reported a 65-percent improvement in sleep quality. Study participants who exercised found that they felt less drowsy during the day compared to those who were less physically active. Study researcher, Brad Cardinal, professor of exercise science at the university says, “Physical activity may not just be good for the waistline and heart, but it also can help you sleep.

Nutrition: The research is far from definitive but it’s thought that eating some foods before bedtime promotes sleep while eating other food hinders it. Foods you’ll want to avoid before bedtime are alcohol of any kind, coffee, dark chocolate, energy drinks, soda, spicy food, fatty foods, steak, chicken, and grapefruit.

5. You’ll look younger – Your metabolism starts to slow down in your thirties. Mid-to-late thirties is when some people (not all) first begin wanting to look younger. When you’re happy with how you look you tend to be happier and have more self-confidence.

Exercise: A 2014 study done by McMaster University in Ontario, Canada came to the conclusion that the best way to look younger is not through anti-aging creams, but through regular exercise.

Researchers used a patch of skin on people’s buttock for the study. They found that people who were over 65 and adopted an exercise regimen for three months had skin (in the study area) that resembled those of 20 to 40-year-olds. Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, who oversaw the study, says “All they had done different was exercise. It is astonishing to consider all of the intricate ways in which exercise changes our bodies.”

Nutrition: “Your diet directly affects your day-to-day appearance and plays a significant role in how well you age,” says New York City doctor Joshua Zeichner, MD. If you want to look younger than your years when you get older, here are some of the foods you should focus on: watermelon (it’s high in lycopene which helps stave off sun damage to your skin) ; pomegranates (high in antioxidants that help prevent fine lines, wrinkles and dryness.); blueberries (contain antioxidants that brighten the skin and even out its tone.); lobster (contains zinc which accelerates renewal of your skin cells); kale (high in iron lack of which can cause you skin to look pale); avocado (high in oleic acid which helps moisturize your skin); cantaloupe (contains beta carotene which helps regular skin cells on your scalp and your skin’s outer layer.

It’s been said that when it comes to an overall healthy lifestyle, nutrition is 70% of the puzzle and exercise is 30%. Some put nutrition as high as 80%. Which makes it clear that if you want to sleep better, have less stress in your life, have healthy bones and avoid type 2 diabetes (among other benefits), you need a lifestyle strategy that includes both exercise and nutrition.

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